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19255 Chemical accident in Russia with propane
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General accident information
Class/Quality * * *
Year 2003
Summary Damaged pipe at oil refinery
Released propane-propylene,
Butane-propylene and sodium
Sulphide causing 97 casualties
Country RUS
Chemicals Butane, Butylene (butene), Hydrogen sulphide (h2s), Propane,
Cause Unknown-cause
Fatalities/Injuries 0 / 97
Occurrences or events Damage, No-action, Penetrate/Puncture, Release,
Full accident information 
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Country: RUSSIA (RUS)
Date : 2003 0416

At least 7/m3 of liquefied propane-propylene and butane-butylene gas mixture containing one percent of hydrogen sulphide leaked at an oil refinery from a damaged pipe collar released a poisonous hydrogen sulphide cloud that literally covered the city. In the first hours following the leak 30 people, mostly schoolchildren, complained of dizziness, headaches, and nausea and had to be admitted to hospital.
Later the city officials claimed that the cloud had dissipated and no longer posed any threat to city dwellers, but over the weekend the number of patients with gas poisoning symptoms in hospitals tripled. Those hospitalized over the weekend were all residents of the same district, where the refinery is situated. It transpired that over the weekend the poisonous cloud of hydrogen sulphide covered three more schools and a kindergarten. Many of the younger patients were of a pre-school age. The number of patients showing symptoms of gas poisoning was growing. Doctors had been instructed to hospitalize everyone who shows signs of poisoning, however slight those symptoms were.
Therefore, the real number of people who had suffered poisoning was yet to be verified, and would be announced only after all patients underwent a thorough medical checkup. In the meantime, doctors said that the patients were improving. Doctors at the regional rehabilitation center, where almost half of all the patients were admitted to, hoped that some of them would discharge as early as 5/days later.
In the meantime, prosecutors looking into the gas leak had reported that upon learning of the accident at 1450 hours a duty officer at the refinery failed to report it to emergencies directorate and to the state technical inspectorate, as required by safety regulations. The regional authorities were not informed of the leak either, while the poisonous cloud drifted over the city at a speed of 5-7/meters/second.
Rescue services only learned of the accident half an hour after it occurred, when the first victims started showing symptoms of gas poisoning and sought medical treatment. The deputy prosecutor had said that a criminal case had been opened under Article 246 of the Russian Criminal Code covering violations of environmental safety at work. The company had promised compensation of 3000 roubles (just under 100 USA dollars) to all
those who had suffered as a result of the gas leak. The parents of some children were not satisfied and they intend to sue the oil firm.

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